Author Archives: Andy Duncan

The Politics of Obedience: The Discourse of Voluntary Servitude


By Andy Duncan, Vice-Chairman of Mises UK

I’ve just spent the last ninety minutes reading an amazing short book by Étienne de la Boétie, written in 1553, on the nature of how the state gains mass obedience and on how we can reduce and then eliminate the state by reducing and eventually eliminating that obedience in a completely non-violent manner, in a bid to create Hoppe-World. Yes, it’s a long battle, but one worth fighting for. Now I’ve read it, I think this book may be essential reading for all believers in property, freedom, and liberty.

My favourite quote:

“Let us therefore learn while there is yet time, let us learn to do good. Let us raise our eyes to Heaven for the sake of our honor, for the very love of virtue, or, to speak wisely, for the love and praise of God Almighty, who is the infallible witness of our deeds and the just judge of our faults. As for me, I truly believe I am right, since there is nothing so contrary to a generous and loving God as tyranny—I believe He has reserved, in a separate spot in Hell, some very special punishment for tyrants and their accomplices.” – Étienne de la Boétie, The Politics of Obedience: The Discourse of Voluntary Servitude, 1553 A.D

A close runner-up, and my second favourite quote:

“Place on one side fifty thousand armed men, and on the otherthe same number; let them join in battle, one side fighting to retain its liberty, the other to take it away; to which would you, at a guess, promise victory? Which men do you think would march more gallantly to combat—those who anticipate as a reward for their suffering the maintenance of their freedom, or those who cannot expect any other prize for the blows exchanged than the enslavement of others? One side will have before its eyes the blessings of the past and the hope of similar joy in the future; their thoughts will dwell less on the comparatively brief pain of battle than on what they may have to endure forever, they, their children, and all their posterity. The other side has nothing to inspire it with courage except the weak urge of greed, which fades before danger and which can never be so keen, it seems to me, that it will not be dismayed by the least drop of blood from wounds. Consider the justly famous battles of Miltiades, Leonidas, Themistocles, still fresh today in recorded history and in the minds of men as if they had occurred but yesterday, battles fought in Greece for the welfare of the Greeks and as an example to the world. What power do you think gave to such a mere handful of men not the strength but the courage to withstand the attack of a fleet so vast that even the seas were burdened, and to defeat the armies of so many nations, armies so immense that their officers alone outnumbered the entire Greek force? What was it but the fact that in those glorious days this struggle represented not so much a fight of Greeks against Persians as a victory of liberty over domination, of freedom over greed?” – Étienne de la Boétie, The Politics of Obedience: The Discourse of Voluntary Servitude, 1553 A.D.

With a long and penetrating foreword by Murray N. Rothbard, the book is freely available to download:

For those who like that sort of thing, there is also an accompanying audio book:

 

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Emmanuel Goldstein strikes again!


By Andy Duncan, Vice-Chairman of Mises UK

Democrats in the United States are now demanding war, death, and destruction in the Middle-East, in places most of them would be unable to point to on a globe. Why? Because Donald Trump is trying to reduce war, death, and destruction in the Middle-East, or at least he’s trying to reduce American involvement in such terrible things. One is of course reminded of George Orwell’s quote from Nineteen-Eighty-Four:

“The war is not meant to be won, it is meant to be continuous. Hierarchical society is only possible on the basis of poverty and ignorance. The war is waged by the ruling group against its own subjects and its object is not the victory over either Eurasia or East Asia, but to keep the very structure of society intact.”

Once again it seems the elites have been using Mr Orwell’s dystopian novel as a guidebook for their own continuing power over the rest of us, rather than as a portentive Cassandran warning.

Personally, I would like to congratulate President Trump for withdrawing U.S. forces from Syria, and hopefully later from Afghanistan too, to reduce the destruction wrought by elite globalism. Though no doubt he’s merely serving the whims of that global puppet-master, that Emmanuel Goldstein himself, Vladimir Putin.

But what is the United States doing anyway in such places? Was it not founded on the ambition of George Washington to avoid permanent alliances and Thomas Jefferson’s wish to avoid entangling alliances? Are two oceans really not enough to defend America, plus the largest and most technologically advanced set of armed forces in the world? The American Democrats make me sick with their double-think and their hypocrisy. Keep going, Sir Donald!

Anyhow, enough of that. Here’s an excellent interview on the subject, between Jeff Deist and Dave Smith. As our American friends would say, enjoy y’all!

Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn and ‘Leftism’ – An Appreciation


By Andy Duncan, Vice-Chairman of Mises UK

As John the Baptist to the Jesus Christ of Hans-Hermann Hope, Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn forms an essential reading component of any modern Miseo-Rothbardo-Hoppeian. As a Renaissance gentleman swimming in a sea of kleptocratic fools – perhaps whilst holding his head aloft and smoking a fine Cuban cigar – Kuehnelt-Leddihn successfully negotiated these seas and serially and routinely speared and devoured our enemies, the hate-filled envious class warriors of ‘social justice’.

Although an Austrian nobleman by birth, he never became a full true ‘Austrian’ in the sense of Ludwig von Mises. However, rising up from the water, he definitely flew within the ambit of angels, describing himself as an ‘extreme conservative arch-liberal’. In one sense of the word, I would personally regard myself as completely ‘apolitical’. I simply wish that everyone else in the world would leave me alone, so long as I abstain from infringing upon their rights of property and freedom. However, if someone compelled me to bear a political label, then I would hold myself happy to concur with this description.

So, if you’ve never read Kuehnelt-Leddihn before, where do you begin? Should you start with Liberty or Equality, The Menace of the Herd, or Leftism? (To my mind, these three immense works rise up clearly as the triumvirate pinnacle of his many books.) Well, as a labour of love I’ve already read all three for you, along with most of the rest, and for me the clear winner stands out as Leftism. It’s historical, it’s complete, and it stands alone by itself. If there existed only one of his books in the vaults of history, it sums up his thinking best of all. Fortunately, it’s also freely available to download and read via Mises.org at the link here! Quickly, before all stocks go!

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The National Socialists were Socialists, Shock!


By Andy Duncan, Vice-Chairman of Mises UK

The national socialists were socialists, shock! This is as described by Sir Norman Tebbitt in a recent Daily Telegraph article:

“It is either delusional or deceitful to call the Nazi or Fascist parties “Right wing”. There could hardly be any more clear example of the tin containing exactly what is said on the label than Hitler’s Nazis, the National Socialist German Workers Party, nor Mussolini’s collectivist Fascists. They were the Left-wing of politics on the European mainland. And they both proudly wore the racist badge of anti-Semitism.”

With President Trump in the United States, President-Elect Bolsonaro in Brazil, and Chancellor Kurz in Austria, as well as several others, we’re seeing a lot of Non-Player-Character Leftists handing out epithets such as ‘Far-Right’, ‘Ultra-Right’, ‘Neo-Nazi’, and so on, to anyone who dares stand up against socialist hegemony. This is an attempt to try to link such politicians to the greatest ever bogey-man of the Left, Reichs Chancellor Adolf Hitler.

But what if it turns out that this bogey-man is actually a Leftist himself? And what if his political regime was also a totally Leftist construct? What would the NPC Left say then? Well, if they accepted it, they would probably be speechless. So they will be kicking and screaming, I should imagine, in the face of this Telegraph article, to completely deny it.

However, it remains undeniable. The national socialists were socialists.

In my opinion, the best full book on this subject is Omnipotent Government: The Rise of the Total State and Total War, written in 1944 by Ludwig von Mises. As a lover of liberty who had fled before the national socialists himself, in 1940, he knew exactly how to describe their political nature:

“The German and the Russian systems of socialism have in common the fact that the government has full control of the means of production. It decides what shall be produced and how. It allots to each individual a share of consumer’s goods for his consumption. These systems would not have to be called socialist if it were otherwise. But there is a difference between the two systems— though it does not concern the essential features of socialism. The Russian pattern of socialism is purely bureaucratic. All economic enterprises are departments of the government, like the administration of the army or the postal system. Every plant, shop, or farm stands in the same relation to the superior central organization as does a post office to the office of the postmaster general. The German pattern differs from the Russian one in that it (seemingly and nominally) maintains private ownership of the means of production and keeps the appearance of ordinary prices, wages, and markets. There are, however, no longer entrepreneurs but only shop managers (Betriebsführer). These shop managers do the buying and selling, pay the workers, contract debts, and pay interest and amortization. There is no labor market; wages and salaries are fixed by the government. The government tells the shop managers what and how to produce, at what prices and from whom to buy, at what prices and to whom to sell. The government decrees to whom and under what terms the capitalists must entrust their funds and where and at what wages laborers must work. Market exchange is only a sham. All the prices, wages, and interest rates are fixed by the central authority. They are prices, wages, and interest rates in appearance only; in reality they are merely determinations of quantity relations in the government’s orders. The government, not the consumers, directs production. This is socialism in the outward guise of capitalism.”

Omnipotent Government followed on from a much deeper analysis of socialism, in my favourite Von Mises book, Socialism, written much earlier in the 1920s, which analysed every facet of socialism known at the time. In this book, Von Mises distilled out the essential point via which we know whether a particular political system is socialist or not, later reflected in the above quote:

“The essence of Socialism is this: All the means of production are in the exclusive control of the organized community. This and this alone is Socialism.”

I always love the cognitive dissonance it provokes in Leftists when one correctly describes the national socialists as socialists. They generally hate being forced to acknowledge this reality, preferring to call them ‘Nazis’ instead, to somehow obliterate the link. However, the clue, as always, is in the name. Were they called ‘National Conservatives’? No. Were they called ‘National Liberals’? No. They were called ‘National Socialists‘.

Deal with it, Leftists. He was one of your own.

Interview: Analysing ‘Democracy, The God That Failed’


By Andy Duncan, Vice-Chairman of Mises UK

With the PFS 2018 conference rapidly coming up at Bodrum, I thought it might be worth dusting off an interview I did a couple of years ago with a friend of mine, Greg Moffitt, from the Legalise Freedom podcast.

Greg had earlier contacted Professor Hoppe to ask whether he could interview the current Dean of the Austrian School about his books, particularly, Democracy – The God That Failed. To my great personal surprise, the professor had then directed Greg to contact me instead, to sort of stand in as an ‘Ersatz’ Hoppeian!

As an Austrian, and as a believer in a totally voluntary society, it’s really difficult to think of any higher honour, so I stepped manfully into the breach.

In preparation for the interview, I re-read all of the main Hoppe books, and then in this quite extensive interview, we discuss most of them, with me in an unfamiliar role as a podcast guest rather than in my more familiar role as a podcast host.

Although most of the podcast is dedicated to DTGTF – along with Hoppe’s other major works – we also cover a number other books, by various other Austrian luminaries, so it really is quite a smorgasbord of Austrian economics.

Anyhow, that’s enough talking, here’s the podcast:

Book Review: Hans-Hermann Hoppe – Defying Leviathan


By Andy Duncan, Vice-Chairman of Mises UK

I used to be a singer in a rock and roll band.

Well, okay, maybe not, but I was a lead guitarist in a punk rock band. I even had my Fender copy tuned so I could play the major rock chords with a single sliding finger, just like those anarcho-punk legends, Crass.

If only our band had possessed some luck, a good manager, a driving licence between us, some money, a van, and a small pet monkey named Brian, we might have made it big. Especially if the lead guitarist had actually possessed any talent.

But, alas, this punk dream faded, as it did for a million others, and my brush with anarchy submerged itself for another twenty years. However, much to my surprise it resurfaced, a little rusty but largely unscathed, when it experienced a depth charge blast from Professor Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s mental mind bomb, Democracy: The God That Failed.

There are few in the world who dare promote the dissolution of all forms of government, especially in the hostile spitting face of a billion state-supporting rent seekers. And of those few brave men, only a tiny handful, mostly Austro-libertarians, possess the requisite economic theory, moral strength, and political knowledge to really frighten all of those state-loving horses. Foremost amongst them is Professor Hoppe, a man in the proper Austrian tradition of being a German speaker by birth, though also a man at odds with many inside proper libertarian circles, as opposed to those Christmas-voting leftist libertarian turkeys who believe the state is the ultimate guarantor of individual rights. Which makes about as much sense as taxman with genuine friends. Proper libertarians divide themselves into two broad camps; Minarchists and Anarchists; those who believe in a minimalist night-watchman state, on the grounds that even though the state is odious and should be limited in every way possible, it is still necessary to provide security; and those who believe that we need no odious government at all, because even security, that last bastion of the coercive apparatus of the state, can itself be provided on the open market.

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Hans-Hermann Hoppe: A Unified Theory of Everything


By Andy Duncan, Vice-Chairman of Mises UK

I possess three brain cells. One is concerned with food and beer, particularly Sam Adams light, the black stuff from Guinness, and any full strength export lager originating from Sweden. The second brain cell is concerned with personal visions of a possible future in a couple of thousand years. The third brain cell, God bless it, is concerned with music, philosophy, chess, politics, writing, art, fine Pinot Noir wine, provocative Stilton cheese, good conversation, and, when it has the chance, the brown-eyed charms of Penelope Cruz.

I have just read Professor Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s A Theory of Socialism and Capitalism. That poor old overloaded third brain cell has just been fried. And it’s going to take more than a Sam Adams to bring it back online again.

This book, available freely online as a PDF file, is essentially a description of everything around us in the political world, and a superb platform for any aspiring Austro-libertarian to base their world view upon. Personally speaking, it has quite shaken my world, and finally caused me to sever any hope I once held for the world’s two major conservative parties, the Tories in the UK, and the Republicans in the US, to help bring the rest of us towards a prosperous happy future containing much greater liberty.

Unlike the Professor’s later books, such as Dmmocracy: The God That Failed, and The Myth of National Defense, this older book is written with much less tempered anger, and with much more cool rationalism. Indeed, the Professor could be a chemist discussing the physical properties of hydrocarbons, for all the hearty emotion he displays on his sleeve.

But this book is all the more powerful for this cold-blooded analytical approach. The hydrocarbons the Professor discusses are the ingredients necessary to blow up the ideology behind every political ruling class in the world.

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